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Dike Road work nearly done

While the hydroseed establishes itself, the public is asked to use the designated trails and stay off the newly seeded areas. According to the release, the bank will be watered five times a day over the course of several weeks and visitors should be aware that the sprinkler systems will be activated often.

The levee rehabilitation project required the removal of trees to stabilize the bank, which according to the release also provided for more public space, improved access to the water and enhanced views of the water.  Cda Press

Report: Preserve Dike Ponderosas

KEA blog reports: Over the last year, RYA has been analyzing, testing and evaluating the Dike Road’s slope, stability and long term viability.  With the goal of keeping as many trees as possible, Arborist, Tim Kasting was brought on to assess  the health of over 1000 trees within the Dike’s area of influence.  His report concluded that at least 350 of those trees will need to be removed due to defects, poor health or crowding.  Trees that remain on the Dike that are more than 16 inches in diameter will require annual monitoring and subsequent maintenance. None of the trees recommended for removal are the majestic ponderosa pines that make North Idaho College (NIC) Beach and the Dike Road such a beautiful place to walk, bike, sit, sun, play and park. More here.

Question: Are you OK with taking out 350 trees along Dike Road, as long as the stately ponderosas are preserved?

KEA Gets Lame Army Corp Response

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has sent lamest of lame responses to Terry Harris of the Kootenai Environmental Alliance re: the 4400 signatures collected to save the Dike Road trees: "This is in response to your letter dated Nov 28, which expressed concerns about the planned removal of trees located on the Federally-authorized levee in the city of Coeur d’Alene. I apologize for the delay in responding. I appreciate the importance of this issue to the city and to the members of your organization. In fact, it is a matter of intense interest to many communities and groups across the nation. Because of pending litigation on this issue, I cannot comment further at this time. However, thank you for your letter and for your interest in the Army Civil Works Program." More here.


Bloem Confident Trees Can Be Saved

Top city officials said they're confident the city will be able to save the trees on the dike, and they weren't giving it any political spin. City Administrator Wendy Gabriel and Mayor Sandi Bloem said they believe they are very close to certifying the flood plain through a third party at the price of around $200,000. That would allow the city to keep most, if not all, of the 500-700 trees the Army Corps of Engineers has ordered removed. Details and meetings will be worked out in the coming months, but Gabriel said the chance at tree-keeping is "very good." Bloem seemed even more confident/Tom Hasslinger, Coeur d'Alene Press. More here.


Dike Road Removal Cost: $1.6M?

Taking a closer look at the impacts of the Corps of Engineers mandate to remove trees from the Rosenberry Drive dike, a local engineering firm was engaged by North Idaho College to review options for the City of Coeur d’Alene. In the review, the firm estimated that the costs of removing trees and roots, and then reconstructing the dike, would cost upwards of $1.6 million. The cost estimate was presented at a recent meeting of the ad hoc committee formed by the City of Coeur d’Alene regarding the dike road trees issue/Terry Harris, KEA, via Twitter. More here. (SR file photo of a mother rollerskating her then 3-year-old daughter on picturesque Dike Road on Lake Coeur d'Alene's north shore)


By The Numbers …

"The number of trees on the dike? Exactly 705. The good folks at North Idaho College walked it recently" — TerryatKEA via Twitter.

Labrador Reviews Dike Road Petitions

The Kootenai Environmental Alliance received this photo of Congressman Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, flipping through the big stack of Dike Road Trees Petitions. Rep. Labrador’s office agreed to carry the petitions to Washington DC to Jo-Ellen Darcy, the U.S. Army Assistant Secretary for Civil Works. The KEA launched a petition drive to save the large pines along Dike Road after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers ordered them clear cut. More from KEA Blog here.

KEA Sues Corps RE: Dike Road Trees

In a letter, Terry Harris, of the Kootenai Environmental Alliance, writes: "Today, Kootenai Environmental Alliance filed a lawsuit in federal court challenging the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers mandate to remove the trees along the Rosenberry Drive (“The Dike Road”) in Coeur d’Alene.  The lawsuit alleges that the Corps failed to perform an adequate environmental analysis, and that the Corps is attempting to enforce a memorandum that isn’t actually a law. The Gonzaga University Law School's Environmental Law Clinic represents KEA in this case. The KEA lawsuit alleges that, at some point, the Corps of Engineers should have performed some sort of environmental analysis for the vegetation removal – either at the national program policy level, or at the local implementation level.  The Corps has essentially done neither, which KEA alleges is in violation of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)." More here. (KEA photo of Dike Road trees)


City Appoints Dike Tree Committee

We got the phone call the other day and an email confirmation yesterday, and we’re pleased to say that KEA will be represented on the City of Coeur d’Alene’s new ad hoc committee to deal with the dike road trees. An initial meeting will be scheduled for mid-November. Recall that a Corps of Engineers inspection is calling for removal of the 500 mature trees along the levee between North Idaho College and the waterfront. KEA has initiated a petition drive calling on the Corps to review its levee vegetation policy as applied here in Coeur d’Alene. Along with KEA, appointees to the committee include representatives from North Idaho College, the Centennial Trail, Fort Grounds homeowners, the 4-Counties Natural Resources Committee, Councilman John Bruning, and State Senator John Goedde/Terry Harris, KEA Blog. More here. (KEA Blog photo)

Question: Are you satisfied with the representation on the Dike Road tree committee?

Council To Name Dike Road Panel

In "other business" tonight, the Coeur d'Alene City Council will discuss formation of a Dike Road ad hoc committee, to fight the demand by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to clear cut trees, including viewtiful ponderosas, along Rosenberry Drive (b/n the waterfront & North Idaho College). After much uproar, some City Council members have shifted position from reluctant acceptance of the demand to opposition. Many in the community are dead set against cutting the trees as a possible deterrent to a major flood. The army corps has received much criticism in communities around the West, including Sacramento, Calif., for issuing a one-size-fits-all demand to remove trees from flood-prevention levees. The corps maintains that the tree roots weaken the levee. But a study it conducted sez that they sometimes don't. Meanwhile, the Kootenai Environmental Alliance has collected 3,000 signatures in opposition to removing the trees. You can read the council's agenda for tonight's meeting here. (SR file photo: Kathy Plonka)

Question: Have you signed a petition in opposition to tree removal, either on line or in person?

Corps Study: Trees Sometimes Help

A new study by the Army Corps of Engineers says that trees growing on levees can strengthen the flood-control structures in some circumstances, but indicated that results vary by soil type, climate conditions and levee design. “These results cannot be generalized to apply to every levee system,” said Maureen Corcoran, an Army Corps research geologist. Trees and their root systems can either increase or decrease levee safety, she said, and must be analyzed on a case-by-case basis. The city of Coeur d’Alene learned this year that hundreds of mature ponderosa pine trees growing along Rosenberry Drive, also known as “the dike road,” don’t comply with the corps’ national levee standards/Becky Kramer, SR. More here. (SR file photo)

Question: Any guesses re: how the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will respond now that the city of Coeur d'Alene has decided not to be bullied by the agency to clear-cut Dike Road ponderosas?

Council Digs In On Dike Road Trees

Item: Coeur d’Alene City Council Signals Stronger Stand on Dike Road Trees/KEA Blog

More Info: In a procedure that will set up action at the next City Council meeting, Councilman John Bruning made a motion (seconded by Councilman Edinger) that would have the city formally opposing the Corps position, and would set up an ad hoc advisory committee to help the city fight the Corps and protect the trees. The motion passed unanimously setting up final action at the September 20th meeting. Councilman Bruning, reading from prepared remarks, said that the City needed to be clear in its opposition and needs to “draw a line in the sand and say no to a federal agency.”

Question: Is this a signal that the City Council was listening to the community?

Sacto Rubs Corps Nose In Own Study

Coeur d’Alene isn’t the only community miffed at the loopy demand by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to clear-cut viewtiful trees from flood prevention levees. Sacramento, Calif., is, too. The corps, as you may recall, freaked out after Hurricane Katrina, ordering communities to remove trees and vegetation from levees (like the ponderosas on Coeur d’Alene’s waterfront dike road), claiming the vegetation destabilizes them. Cash-strapped California communities and flood agencies could spend millions of dollars removing trees and shoring up levees to meet the corps’ inflexible demand. In an editorial urging the corps to revise its levee policy, the Sacramento Bee pointed to a study conducted by the agency that shows some levees are strengthened, not weakened, by trees. The Bee concludes that corps muckety-mucks should heed the findings of their own study and “develop a more flexible, case-by-case policy for levee maintenance nationwide.” Bingo/DFO, Huckleberries. More here.

Weekend SR columns:

Save Dike Road Trees Drive Begins

Terry Harris/Kootenai Environmental Alliance has just launched an online petition drive to save the viewtiful ponderosas and other trees along Rosenberry Drive (NIC Dike Road) from U.S. Army Corps of Engineers clear-cutting dictate. Petition language reads: “We, the undersigned, object to the levee vegetation policy as currently implemented by the U.S. Corps of Engineers, which would result in the removal of hundreds of trees along the Rosenberry Drive levee embankment in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. The trees are not a danger to flood control and they provide the city with significant and irreplaceable environmental, aesthetic, and recreational values to our community. We urge your reconsideration of the policy so that we may preserve our trees.” More here. (SR file photo: Kathy Plonka)

Question: Are you interested in signing and/or circulating the petition?

Paper Rips Corps Levee Tree Policy

When it comes to trees and levees, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers needs to revise its one-chainsaw-fits-all policy. A new study by the Corps reveals why. The study, conducted by an Army Corps research unit in Mississippi, examined how trees affect flood-control levees in California, the Pacific Northwest, New Mexico and Mississippi. It found that trees actually strengthen levees in some situations. It also urged that engineers conduct site-specific evaluations to determine if trees on levees are harmful or beneficial, according to a report Saturday by The Bee's Matt Weiser. The Corps didn't need to commission a study to inject some common sense into this debate. But we are glad it did/Sacramento Bee Editorial Board. More here. (SR file photo/Kathy Plonka: Roger Smith, a retired civil engineer from Coeur d'Alene, said the Ponderosa pines in question are an "aesthetic heritage feature" for the city)

Question: Do I sense that momentum is changing in this debate (which includes the Corps of Engineers goofy demand to clear-cut Coeur d'Alene Dike Road trees)?

Reed: No CdA Flood In My 58 Years

After years of receiving a passing grade for safety from the Army Corps, our local dike was examined by an independent contractor who found over 100 flaws in the dikes’s structure and then recommended the city should remove all the trees. It’s another Alice in Wonderland moment. First the verdict, and then the trial. The trees must go, but the Army Corps admits there is no scientific evidence to suggest our trees are destabilizing the dike. That’s yet to be determined. Let me be clear. The real, everyday issue is not flood prevention but the prevention of high flood insurance rates. A major flood has not come in the 58 years that my husband, Scott, and I have lived in Coeur d’Alene, and it may not come within our lifetimes/Mary Lou Reed, Inlander. More here. H/T: Terry Harris, KEA Blog

Question: Are you willing to sacrifice the trees along the Dike Road (NIC's Rosenberry Drive) to protect the home insurance rates of Fortgrounds residents?

Save Our Trees Petitions Now Online

Terry Harris & his KEA troops have taken their petitions to save the picturesque Dike Road (Rosenberry Drive) ponderosas from a clear-cut U.S. Army Corps of Engineers one-size-fits-all mandate. You can get your copy to download, print out, and circulate to friends here.

KEA Lauds CdA Approach To Demand

The Corps is presently doing some of this research. And with any luck it’ll be done sooner rather than later. Because, as Councilman Mike Kennedy put it  last night (to the best of my notes), “It would be a crime to cut down all the trees only to be told the next day that the Corps has changed its policy due to new science.” Given the circumstances, buying as much time as possible is about the only good option for the City of Coeur d’Alene right now. And we’re glad the Council took that approach/Terry Harris. Full post here.

Question: How often do you visit and/or use the area along the Dike Road?

CdA OKs Dike Work To A Point

Item: Coeur d'Alene approves tree plan … but not so fast on the big trees/Tom Hasslinger, Press

More Info: The Coeur d'Alene City Council Tuesday approved adopting a plan to begin thinning some vegetation and addressing other concerns regarding the levee along Rosenberry Drive in response to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' March order. As part of the adoption, the city will still seek all other options to save the bigger trees along the road.

Question: Do you agree with this approach by the city to the demands by the U.S. Corps of Engineers?

California Challenges Corps Demand

California environmentalists are fighting a situation similar to Coeur d'Alene's in which the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has arbitrarily demanded that viewtiful trees be removed from a dam. Terry Harris/KEA provides this language from the suit: "The Corps adopted a new standard requiring removal of all vegetation from levees without environmental review, consideration of regional differences or scientific support. Not only is there little proof trees or well-managed vegetation threaten levees in California, the Corps’ own research shows trees stabilize and strengthen levees. The Corps must incorporate ongoing scientific research before proceeding." More here. And: Green Libertarian provides the back story to the California lawsuit here.

Question: Should the city of Coeur d'Alene demand that the Corps of Engineers conduct an environmental impact study and address issues involving the National Environmental Policy Act and Endangered Species Act, before kneeling to the corps demand?

SR Columns: KEA To Fight For Trees

Friends and foes alike listen when the respected Kootenai Environmental Alliance speaks. Sorta like the E.F. Hutton of the enviro world. That’s why the Coeur d’Alene City Council should heed a KEA blog post re: the demand by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to level the picturesque trees along the Dike Road (aka Rosenberry Drive): “An incompetent Corps of Engineers and an inflexible FEMA are about to destroy a Coeur d’Alene treasure unnecessarily. The out-of-town and out-of-control federal agencies are blindly calling for the City of Coeur d’Alene to remove hundreds of mature trees from the dike that follows the lake and riverfront around City Park and North Idaho College”/DFO, Huckleberries, SR. More here.

KEA: ‘Inflexible,’ ‘Incompetent’ Feds

In this photo from KEA Blog, endangered trees are on the left, between Rosenberry Drive & Lake Coeur d'Alene.

An incompetent Corps of Engineers and an inflexible FEMA are about to destroy a Coeur d’Alene treasure unnecessarily. The out-of-town and out-of-control federal agencies are blindly calling for the City of Coeur d’Alene to remove hundreds of mature trees from the dike that follows the lake and riverfront around City Park and North Idaho College. (News coverage here, here, here, and here.) Built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in the 1940s, the dike runs just less than a mile and it purports to protect NIC and the Fort Grounds area from 100-year flood events. The main significance, however, is that the dike protects NIC and the Fort Grounds from unreasonable flood insurance premiums/Terry Harris, KEA Blog. More here.

Question: Do you agree with KEA Blog that Corps of Engineers is incompetent and FEMA inflexible on the issue involving Dike Road?

Deanna: City Has No Choice

Deanna Goodlander: The facts are, that FEMA who are the flood insurance folks have told the Core of Engineers who oversee levees that they must more stringently clear levees in order to make them less inclined to fail. After Katrina and more recently the Mississipi River levee failures they are getting more strict. If we fail to act, the entire fort grounds area will have increased rates and the insurance will not cover the full cost of replacement or repairs. With millions of dollars worth of private property, as well as, the college and wastewater plant the costs and risks will be astronomical. Fortunately even if we have to cut trees they will only be on the slope and the ones on the level can stay. More below.


Panel OKs Plan To Cut Dike Trees

Before it can compromise, the city of Coeur d'Alene will likely comply. A subcommittee recommended Monday the City Council adopt a mitigation plan to begin removing vegetation and addressing other concerns regarding the levee along Rosenberry Drive in response to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' March order. "I don't love it," said Deanna Goodlander, City Council and Public Works Committee member, on moving forward with the plan. "I don't even like it." The Public Works Committee recommended the City Council adopt the mitigation plan during its Aug. 2 meeting, saying the city's hands were tied because of possible insurance increases for the surrounding neighborhood should it not adhere to the changes/Tom Hasslinger, CdA Press. More here. (SR file photo)

Question: Are you surprised that the city is rolling over on this one?

CdA Begins Fight To Save Ponderosas

Item: These trees won't fall easily: Residents hope city will explore all options to keep ponderosa pines/Tom Hasslinger, CdA Press

More Info: Tom Torgerson is one Coeur d'Alene resident who wants the community to crunch its own numbers before even one of the 500 ponderosa pine trees is removed. "I would say I'm cautiously optimistic," said Torgerson on the chances of success fighting - or at least questioning - the federal findings that rule those trees are a hazard sitting on the dike. "I couldn't sit back and not try." What's needed, once the Army Corps of Engineers releases its data in the next month, is "an overwhelming abundance of proof that they pose a danger," he said. That should be determined not just by the federal study, Torgerson said, but with local engineers and arborists studying the same terrain.

Question: Is it wise to get a second opinion on the trees along Coeur d'Alene's Dike Road — to ensure that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers isn't overreacting to problems it has encountered elsewhere?

TomTorg: Save Dike Road Trees

TomTorg: (re: Corps: Cut trees along NIC Dike Road): The Army Corp of Engineers is demanding the city of CDA cut down all the trees on the dike road as they are a risk to the levee’s failure!!!!!! This must be stopped! Our local leaders are not going to support or agree with this but may have their hands forced! Contact your state and federal (Mike Crapo, Raul Labrador, Mike Simpson and Jim Risch) leaders and demand this idiocy stop!!!!! They made the same decision on the St. Joe and then “pulled back” after they had cut down most of the Cottonwoods. Back off, Feds!

Question: Do you plan to call our Idaho delegation to demand, as TomTorg sez, "this idiocy stop"?

Corps: Cut Trees Along NIC Road

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is calling for the city of Coeur d’Alene to remove hundreds of trees from its levee, which separates North Idaho College and the Fort Grounds neighborhood from Lake Coeur d’Alene. Rosenberry Drive, otherwise known as the “dike road,” draws thousands of people year-round as a place to park when headed to the college or the beach or events like Art on the Green. A section of North Idaho’s Centennial Trail also stretches along the road and is popular with walkers, joggers and bicyclists. “I don’t think anybody in our community is going to be thrilled about removing 500 trees,” said Coeur d’Alene Mayor Sandi Bloem. “Obviously, we’re going to try to find a solution other than that.” Bloem said city officials are reviewing the Army Corps report and looking for alternatives/Alison Boggs, SR. More here. (SR photo/Kathy Plonka: “I can’t believe they would even think about removing these trees,” said Daryl Rise as he walked with Cristy Hodgkins on the dike road Tuesday at North Idaho College.)

Question: How should the city of Coeur d'Alene handle the Corps of Engineers demand?

Army Corps To Protect Hayden Dike

High water levels have Kootenai County officials asking for help in protecting the dam on the southwest portion of Hayden Lake. Concerned about water lapping at the earthen dam, county officials have contacted the Army Corps of Engineers.  The Corps is planning to take some protective measures that might involve reinforcing the structure to ensure its integrity.  Officials have closed the top of the dam to public access, and commissioners will pass a resolution that creates a temporary no-wake zone in the area of Honeysuckle Bay near the dam/KREM. More here.